The Globe on Camcording

Others have noted the Globe and Mail's one-sided coverage of the camcording story, however, there is one paragraph in today's story that requires an additional comment.  In its front page story, the Globe reports:

Canada – particularly Montreal – is known as one of the world's worst offenders for piracy, rivalling places such as China, Lebanon and the Philippines. A Motion Picture Association analysis of counterfeit discs in 2005 revealed close to 75 per cent of all films illegally camcorded in Canada were recorded in theatres in and around Montreal, recently identified as the No. 1 city in the world for surreptitious camcording.

This claim bears little relation to reality. While it is possible that Montreal is responsible for three-quarters of Canadian camcording, Canada is not known as one of the world's worst offenders for piracy.  While I have previously criticized the USTR's Special 301 List, this year's list identified at least a dozen countries for the "priority" watch list – Canada was not among them.  Moreover, the claim that Montreal is the world's leading source of camcording is rebutted by today's Los Angeles Times, which reports an MPAA claim that New York was responsible for 20 percent worldwide camcording (last week they said 40 percent). According to the MPAA, the world's leading source of pirated movies is the United States, home to the anti-camcording laws that supposedly solve the problem.  The MPAA says that 43 percent of pirated movies are sourced to the U.S. and now says that 20 percent come from Canada. Leaving aside the ongoing inconsistency of the industry claims, there is no disputing that the MPAA itself has identified New York, not Montreal, as the number one city for camcording.

The Globe's coverage is unfortunate, but the comments coming from MPs in today's papers leave little doubt that change will happen.  Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda says the issue is on the government's agenda and MPs from the opposition parties, including Liberals Dan McTeague, Roy Cullen, and Marlene Jennings as well as the NDP's Brian Masse are all on record supporting legal change (in fact, Jennings says she is working on another private member's bill on the issue to go with her lawful access bill).  With that level of support, neither the facts nor the inaccurate reporting really matter at this stage as it would appear that legislation is a matter of when, not if.


  1. Politicians
    Reflecting on the many political embarassments, which this one is turning out to be, and influence peddling cases in recent history, I am extremely disappointed by how little money is required to influence a politician to veer in a direction.

    I don’t expect much integrity from our politicians but at least make sure they can’t be influenced for a pittance.

  2. Basil Berntsen says:

    Means to an end
    These stats are a means to an end- the various content owners in the states want our laws to look more american. They want us to have IP laws as draconian as the DMCA. They apply political lobbying pressure, and then public “information” in the mainstream media, and they get their way. Even if one were able to prove beyond a doubt that their numbers are exaggerated, they would still pass their law and get their way.

    The press talks about camcordering, but honestly the real target of these laws will probably end up being file sharers- I can see a future where the CRIA and other content owners will be suing their customers.

  3. Firstly, thank you Prof. Geist for continuing to provide insightful analysis on this issue. I’d like to request Prof. Geist formulate this as a letter to the editor of the G&M. I could myself, but it’d just be “Prof. Michael Geist points out that…” and would probably have more impact coming from you than from some programmer in Toronto.

    It’s obvious the people at the G&M who’ve covered this aren’t looking for any counter-points to the MPAA, they’re just knee jerking, but I think it’s important to get the counter-point into their paper, so that at least SOME readers will have the benefit of a more objective analysis.

    My $0.02.

  4. If you ever need proof that this issue is a red herring, download a ‘cam’ version of a hollywood film or pick one up from a sidewalk vendor in the chinatown of any major city. Cam versions – the camcorder-recorded versions – are of so notoriously poor quality it is laughable that anyone would see it as taking a bite out of theatrical profits. DVD rips on the other hand, are of excellent quality as they are taken directly from a DVD screeener that the studios send out to the press. Of course, the studios still need to send out DVD screeners, so they have to find another boogyman to take issue with. What boneheads.

  5. Russell McOrmond says:

    Write your MPs
    I have written my MP about this issue, and suggest that everyone else does as well. There was a comment above that this is corrupt politicians being bought by an industry, but I believe it can also be explained as this being politics as usual where only one side has bothered to bring their point of view to the politicians. Canadians need to speak up, or there is no way they can be heard.

    Industry Committee study: Counterfeiting and Piracy of Intellectual Property
    [ link ]

  6. Lobbyists vs Citizens
    In reference to Mr. McOrmond’s comment that ‘only one side has bothered to bring their POV to the politicians’ one can easily see how the following quote is applicable:

    10 men who speak make more noise than 10000 who remain silent.
    – Napoleon Bonaparte.

    It is a disgrace that Oda and her predecessor were more concerned with the ‘facts’ and POV pushed by the 10 people who make campaign contributions than the 10,000 who voted.

  7. Dwight Williams says:

    And with Michael Tierney now heard from.
    …in that interview on CBC Radio One’s Q today on the subject of Bon Cop, Bad Cop being targeted as pirates’ merchandise, what do we do to secure both our own rights as well as those of Tierney and his colleagues?

  8. Pirate
    First and foremost, nobody trust the MPAA, they are crooked. Anything they say is more than likely fabricated than fact. Second of all, 90% pirated software, video, audio, etc etc. that I have downloaded (and that is a great deal, and yes, I am proud of that fact) has come from European countries. DO NOT BELIEVE THE MPAA. Also, does anybody really think that making laws surrounding where you can have camcords is really going to curve pirating? Not bloody likely folks, pirates are just going to find ways around, they always do. And who watches cam movies anyway? just wait for them to come out on dvd and get a ripped version.